“Leadership” Degrees

Discussion in 'Business and MBA degrees' started by Acolyte, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    I may have mis-targeted my previous post. I’m interested in a somewhat generic Master’s to fill out my education and I see lots of degrees in “Leadership” of one kind or another - what are people’s thoughts on degrees like that? Do they have value in the job market? How do hiring managers look at them? Anyone have any experience with these types of degrees? I’m looking hard at the Northern Vermont University MA in Leadership: https://www.northernvermont.edu/nvu-online/programs/ma-leadership-studies

    it’s 6 5-Hour classes that can be taken in any order. Anyone have any thoughts about that program to know of any others I should consider? Or, are there PhD or DPS degrees that make more sense (I already havep an MS) - my goal is to remain employed and viable as I age and perhaps work as a freelance consultant if I leave corporate employment either voluntarily or involuntarily. Thoughts?
  2. AsianStew

    AsianStew Moderator Staff Member

    DPS? Why would you want a Doctorate in Professional Studies? I would choose an Ed.D instead of that or the Ph.D depending on your preference. The Ed.D is more a leadership role geared towards administration or an applied professional degree. The Ph.D is more research oriented, or for teaching purposes at a higher level institution. Know your end goal...

    If you're wanting a degree, you already have a Bachelors & Masters, getting another masters in leadership might be alright if you're moving laterally but if you want to move up, you may want the Ed.D instead. Further to that, NVU's tuition is $588/credit, 30 credits would be $17640. An Ed.D will be roughly $24K at ACE. I think it'll take the same amount of time too!

    Link: https://www.ace.edu/programs?program=68
  3. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    I have pontificated on this topic so much that to do so further would be boring to me as much as anyone else. So, for the best thread on this issue started by someone else, read the thread at https://www.degreeinfo.com/index.php?threads/if-i-could-live-my-life-over-again.53227/. For additional examples of my view of leadership degrees, search - seriously - "leadership and bullshit" on this forum.

    Acolyte, I think I may have asked you this once before, but . . . are you nuckin' futz? :D

    You already have a credible master's degree. To get another one in a generic field is not only a waste of money, it can have a negative effect by making you look like an overqualified space cadet.

    As for Northern Vermont University, it's the only online master's program I see in a school that is a recent merger of two state colleges. In other words, it's a potential cash cow for the school and otherwise a worthless degree for consumers.

    So, do generic degrees like this have any value in the job market? In my opinion, not a bit. How do managers view such a degree? As a joke.

    You want to be employed and viable? With your two particular degrees, you already are. If you're not, you never will be, regardless of how many bullshit credentials you add to your résumé.
  4. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    Thank you both for the responses. Steve, you are correct - I am currently employed in a well-paying position and I still maintain a smaller freelance business position with a few select clients - according to some of the recent threads on this forum about doctorate holders and salaries - I'm already in that ballpark as far as income goes, so my interest is definitely more about long-term viability and later career movement into, well, leadership roles or freelance consulting at some point.

    I'll check out that other thread, but my position has always been that any degree is kind of what you make of it. If you go to ITT tech and learn how to code, you know how to code - your degree becomes less relevant as your work history demonstrates your applied knowledge. But I've only been in positions to hire people a few times - because I came from a blue collar working class background and because of my own (later in life) educational journey, I've always been more interested in what people can actually do than what their degrees are - those were usually just "conversation starters" to me. :)

    AsianStew - because I work in a corporate environment, I was looking more at "business" practitioner types of degrees, so I wasn't considering Ed.D programs, but it looks like that could be a good place to look, thank you for the suggestion!
    That said, I want to clarify a few things:
    • The MA program I posted the link to can be completed in less than a year, and maybe a year and a half if you took one class at a time. The Ed.D looks like it would take between 2-4 years - that's a considerable reduction in time.
    • Secondly, it looks like NVU is offering their 100% online programs at $350 per credit hour! See link here: https://www.northernvermont.edu/nvu-online/about/nvu-online-tuition-and-fees Which brings the cost of that MA to $10, 500 - less than half the price of the $23,194 price tag of the M.Ed.
    As I said above, I work in the corporate world where practical management skills will be prized more than a doctorate, so I'm not sure a doctorate would really help me "move up" any more than a different Master's, but I'm definitely open to looking at any and all programs that are out there - I'm really curious as to what all is out there - I found the NVU program by mistake, lol.
  5. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    PS - strike the second bullet point above - I see where they are charging $588 per credit hour for the graduate program. That makes it a little less attractive, even with my employer tuition reimbursement - I've done lots of searches, but I know sometimes there are "hidden gems" out there that don't come up on the first several pages of a search, so if anyone has any little programs they've found that are in this vein, let me know. I know I found my Master's program by accident as I delved into specific targeted regional searches - and that worked out great. :)
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Honestly? If you already have a Master's, and success doing what you're doing, I doubt this would be the best investment of your money and time.
  7. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    There are a bunch of online DBA programs from both non-profit and for-profit universities. I don't think the Ed.D. or DPS is what you'd want in the corporate world even if they are in organizational leadership. Contrary to what some might say, leadership isn't a bs field. I agree that leadership doctorates are often presented as a one-size-fits-all type of degree, but the field of leadership serves a legitimate purpose.
    JBjunior likes this.
  8. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I don't really know the history of Leadership degrees but my memory tells me that they were originally Education degrees geared primarily for K-12 teachers who were required to get a Masters degree. I am probably doing them a disservice by thinking of them as "fluff degrees" but I confess that this is what I think. I can't see ANY value in earning a Masters in Leadership on top of another Masters. If you want to stay on the Masters level then I'd suggest you look at some sort of Big Data program or instead, collect a couple of specific Grad Certs.
    JoshD likes this.
  9. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    Thanks, Chris. I agree - I don't think targeted education is "BS" either - I heard the same thing about "Communications" when I was in undergrad. Leadership and Management are distinct skill sets. With my Instructional Design degree, media production background and my current career trajectory, I fall very much into the "HR/ training and development" area of the corporate world, which is why I thought maybe an Ed.D or targeted DPS (or even an M.A. in Adult Education) would be better suited toward my career path than a DBA.

    lol. Maybe not, Steve. :) I think my future trajectory will most likely be in training and development and HR type of stuff, so I am looking at broad-based management type of educational opportunities that might make me more attractive going forward. I have found myself unemployed at least three times in my career and as I age, I'm always concerned about being left behind. I appreciate the comments - what might you suggest that might achieve this instead of pursuing something like this?
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  10. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Ok, in that case, it makes a lot of sense. I guess the DPS you were eyeing is Franklin's Instructional Leadership program?! Maybe you should also take a look at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. They offer Ed.D. in HRD; Learning Design & Leadership; Technology Specialists among others. I don't think you can beat their $482/credit hour for a doctorate from such a prestigious university. http://online.illinois.edu/online-programs/doctoral-programs
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    To do what? It is hard to assess the efficacy of a degree without knowing the purpose to which you will apply it.

    Leadership is both a scholarly field and a practical endeavor. There is a solid science around the topic. But again, it is vital to know your goal. Do you intend to enhance your own leadership abilities? Do you intend to develop others? Do you want to advance the knowledge in the field (scholarly or practice)? What?

    One goes to school to get an education and a degree. Notice that the thing you seem to want--a job--is not in that mix. So the nexus between the degree and the desired job had better be pretty strong.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Having spent the past four decades (for the most part) developing leaders in the workplace, I wouldn't call it "fluff." One of the key components in developing leadership, particularly strategic leadership, is purpose. Doing a structured program--a university, a corporate training program, or others--can accomplish this.

    I also don't support the criticisms about a second master's degree...yet. I don't know how that can be criticized without context--without knowing why the person wants the degree. It might be a bad idea, but it might instead be a good one. It's hard to tell with what the poster shared. I certainly would not want to give him/her advice on alternatives to another master's without knowing more as well.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There are specific degree programs for talent development and/or HR. If that's your goal, you should pursue something like that, not a degree in leadership. However, if you intend to become a leadership developer, there are talent development master's degrees with such an emphasis. But you're not saying that.

    Okay, but a master's in leadership is the opposite of that. It is a very specific and narrow discipline, and a master's in it would be designed to take you very deep into the subject to make you an expert in it. Alternately, you might consider an MBA, MPA, or a master's in management, depending on the kind of work environment you intend to pursue.

    My recommendation would be to get a clear picture of what you want to be, what you want to do, with whom you want to do it, and where you want to do it. Then decide on what qualification(s) would get you there, taking into account the education and experience you already have. THEN consider educational alternatives. Your approach lacks a plan, a vision. It's like trying to build a house by nailing two boards together, and then you keep doing that until you have a house. You can just imagine how that would turn out.
    newsongs likes this.
  14. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Oh man, ask me after we find out how bad the depression will be. :(
  15. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    This, 100x. We're experiencing a black swan event and no one knows how bad this is going to get, or what the new status quo will become.

    If you're looking at transitioning into HR/training and development,it might be worth using the time and resources of an additional degree towards perhaps obtaining some train-the-trainer credentials? They can be far more valuable than an additional masters degree. I had a $4600 corporate training gig for 2.5 days of work scheduled in April, with the right credentials, they can be a good side hustle and can really set you apart if you're applying for a FT position.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  16. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    Thanks for the detailed replies. I don't have a plan or an approach yet - I am literally just investigating different programs out there that might be of use to me as I move into the next phase of my career. I'm 50 years old, I have a media production (video mostly) background and I have developed a lot of training and informational materials over the course of my career - but I personally an not a "trainer" - I guess I should specify that I work more in an IT area - I would probably be working with trainers, instructors, and SME's to organize and refine content and then develop online multimedia interactive courses - at least, that's where I see possible growth out of my current position. That said, with my Communications background as a freelancer and as a part-owner of a small communications company in the past, I have consulted on everything from marketing plans to advertising copy to pediatric nutritional CME programs. Several pieces of my M.S. in Instructional Design and Learning Tech revolved around leveraging data and analytics in organizational settings to inform learning initiatives, there were also pieces of audience / learner analysis and other things that I thought might benefit from some of the things (like systems theory, organizational problem solving, etc.) offered in programs like the one I posted. It's my impression that it is more like what might have been called a "Leadership Institute" type of program in years past - not necessarily designed to make you an expert in leadership...but to give you the tools to be a better leader - if that makes sense. In that regard a program like this would be focused on developing leadership qualities within the learner which IMO is pretty universal, like entrepreneurship.

    But I could be wrong...about all of it. The views here seem to be exceedingly negative toward these types of degrees (fluff degree, waste of time and money, taint your entire resume, "worthless" , specific and narrow (although it seems rather broad in application to me) ) I probably won't be moving from my position for at least three years - and I really have no desire to do so, but when they talk about the future - they talk about moving me in that direction - an MBA seems cluttered to me at this point in my career - and if my corporate gig goes away, I see myself freelancing again and doing more consulting work - which is why I thought getting some leadership skills might be helpful.

    Thanks for the suggestion - I've looked into some of the ATD certifications and things since I have the MS in IDLT, is that what you are referring to? It's definitely something else on my radar - I'm just weighing options at this point, and this was a random find.

  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member


    In training and development, the recognized credential is the CPLP, or Certified Professional in Learning and Performance. This is awarded by the Association for Talent Development. I'm a CPLP, and it's the hardest credential I've ever earned. The credential will change to the CPTD--Certified Professional in Talent Development--on April 1st; existing CPLPs will be grandfathered over to the new credential.

    In HR, their are two competing credentials from two organizations that used to act in tandem: the SPHR, or Senior Professional in Human Resources awarded by the Human Resources Certification Institute, and the SHRM-SCP, awarded by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). I earned the SPHR when it was the only one, then got grandfathered into the SHRM-SCP, which I've since let lapse.

    In coaching, the International Coach Federation (new name) certifies coaches at three levels: ACC (Associate Certified Coach), PCC (Professional Certified Coach), and MCC (Master Certified Coach). I'd say most certified coaches are at the ACC level, with very, very few at the MCC. I hold the PCC.

    I'm sharing this because certifications are a way to get industry recognition for your skills and knowledge--assuming you have some. Each has different prerequisites for sitting for their certification exams, but you can explore them to see if you qualify and if they might help you in your quest.

    And just to be silly (and remembering Dr Rummersfield):

    Rich Douglas, AAS, AA, BS, BA, MBA, PhD, DSocSci, PCC, SPHR, CPLP, Captain (USAF Ret), GS-15
  18. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    This is just my personal thoughts, you are the one who has some significant decisions to make. Outside of academia, often what someone has as a Masters degree is not nearly as important as that they have one. Keep in mind, you are pitching "YOU", not a degree. You already have an MS in IDLT, that is HR/T&D related, leverage it! From my perspective, while you will certainly add to your knowledge repertoire, you'd appear far more valuable on a resume review/interview if you added an SPHR, PMP, etc. credentials than if you added an additional Masters degree. A Masters degree states that you're competent, a Masters degree and well-respected credentials state that you're an accomplished professional. Depending on what field you're experienced in, adding Lean-Six Sigma, Agile, Scrum, Change Management, etc. could make you even more valuable. If you've spent a significant portion of your career in a few particular industries, adding a train-the-trainer credential can also make you invaluable. Additionally, all those add the ability to easily (arguably), start picking up side consulting and training work. I fully agree with Rich, who's professional signature appears to be a can of Alphabet soup that spilled out (that's a compliment!), adding an additional degree is not necessarily bad or a waste. As far as building yourself up as an applicant though for what you've stated you're planning on going into, my personal opinion is that you may have better options. I wish you the best.
  19. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    Thanks Rich and Vonnegut - I actually have looked at the ATD training programs and credentials- those were some of the other paths I was considering - In fact I just got some conference stuff in the mail from ATD- I really wasn’t sure how much weight those credentials “actually” carried- so it’s good to understand the value that non-degree professional credentials carry. As far as coaching goes, I’ve considered that as well, I’m on an email list for Erickson International - Have you ever heard of them or know anything about their program?

    The bottom line is that I will be looking to add further credentials to my resume, whether it is a second Master’s degree, ATD credentials, coaching credentials or grad ceros in Adult Education or corporate training- I haven’t decided what the best path forward is just yet.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    A good way to test the utility of a professional credential is to do a search on job sites like Indeed or Monster based on the credential to see if employers are either asking for it or requiring it.

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